'Tremendous loss': Boy, 14, dies days after car crashes into Hinsdale Fontano's

Sean Richards had just graduated from 8th grade at St. Isaac Jogues, planned to attend Benet Academy in fall: family

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Friday, July 21, 2023
Family, friends remember teen killed in Hinsdale sub shop crash
Family and friends are remembering the teen killed when a car crashed into a Hinsdale sub shop.

HINSDALE, Ill. (WLS) -- A 14-year-old boy has died days after being struck by a Jeep that crashed into a sub shop in Hinsdale Monday.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Friday morning that Sean Patrick Richards died from his injuries from the crash.

The crash happened on Monday afternoon at 9 S. Lincoln St., with a vehicle driving all the way into Fontano's sub shop. First responders arrived just after 2:35 p.m.

Richards was walking on the sidewalk before the crash, police said.

The 14-year-old ended up on the hood of the Jeep before falling under the vehicle, the sub shop's owner said. He was flown to Comer Children's Hospital after suffering critical injuries.

The owner of Fontano's Subs said surveillance video shows a Jeep coming out of Fuller's Carwash across the street and crashing straight into the restaurant.

Hinsdale police said Friday a 16-year-old Hinsdale boy, who was working at the car wash, was driving the Jeep.

Four others, including customers, were injured in the crash.

Richards' parents released a statement saying, "Our hearts are broken as we inform you that our precious angel, Sean Patrick Richards, went to heaven Thursday, July 20. We are devastated and will forever have a large hole in our hearts.

"Sean was a gentle soul who was always both humble and kind. Full of joy, he was the most loving child and was a friend to everyone he met. In May, at age 14, he graduated 8th grade at St. Isaac Jogues Parish Catholic School in our hometown of Hinsdale and he was eager to begin high school at Benet Academy in the fall.

"We are forever grateful for the outpouring of love and support that has lifted us up during these trying days. In particular, we want to thank those from the St. Isaac Jogues School and Parish, Benet Academy and Hinsdale communities, as well as the many, many friends, family and strangers who have prayed for Sean and our family during this unimaginable time.

"In addition, we would like to express our gratitude to the paramedics, doctors and staff at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale and the pediatric intensive care unit at UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital for their excellent care.

"Please continue to pray for Sean's soul and for his loving family as we grieve this tremendous loss."

A memorial has been growing outside the Hinsdale sub shop, as the community jumps into action to honor the teen.

"Boy, it's like a gut punch for all of us, someone so young, so faithful, so full of life, such a good and kind hearted person. So we can trust his soul to God. His family wanted to thank everybody for their prayers, and let's keep praying for them," Father Burke Masters said.

"I've known him for so long, and it was hard to process," Richards' friend James Stangle said. "He was probably the nicest kid in the grade. He never did anything bad, never got in trouble, he never said anything behind somebody's back, he always said nice things about us. He was really smart, too. That was good. He helped me study sometimes."

Students and families of St. Isaac Jogues Parish Catholic School cut green ribbons Thursday, and tied them to trees in memory of the 14-year-old.

"If I could say about what I would aspire a St. Isaacs graduate be like, it was Sean," Principal Carol Burlinski said. "He was always there to serve others; he was here two weeks ago, helping our tech director re-image our iPads because we needed some extra help. He helps live stream the masses in the church with all his skills, and his kindness, and always putting others first."

He was faithfully involved in the church.

"Just last Sunday, he was here serving mass. And then Monday the accident happened. You don't want this to happen to anybody, but especially somebody, so young, so good, so kind and so loving, just a great family. It's just tragic," Father Masters said. "His life has impacted mine and thousands of others here in this community, and he will be remembered for a long time into the future."

The principal said grief counselors will be at the school Friday.

The Major Crash Reconstruction Team from the DuPage County Merit Task Force is assisting Hinsdale police with the investigation.

They've interviewed witnesses and reviewed surveillance footage from area businesses.

Police said the Jeep has been impounded, and they've downloaded data from the vehicle's "black box."

The DuPage County State's Attorney's Office told police they expect a determination of charges sometime next week.